Aaron Millar is an award-winning travel writer. He contributes regularly to The Times, the Guardian, National Geographic Traveller and many other national and international publications. Host/producer of the Armchair Explorer podcast.
Follow world-record breaking explorer George Bullard on a world-first kayak from Greenland to Scotland across one of the most dangerous stretches of water on the planet. No one thought they could do it. Most people assumed they would die trying – and they nearly did, more than once. But, despite the odds, over six weeks, George and his expedition partner Ollie Hicks, crossed 1,200-miles of open ocean from the edge of the Greenland Ice Cap to Iceland, then on to the Faroe Islands, and from there to the north Scottish shore. Paddling through the night, sleeping out in the sinister dark of the polar ocean, battling storms, exhaustion and raging seas – this is the story of the most dangerous kayak expedition ever undertaken. But it’s more than that too. Three hundred years ago a mysterious figure in a strange shaped canoe washed up on the coast of Aberdeen, in northeast Scotland. He was alive, barely. No one knew who he was, where he came from, what language he spoke, and he died a few days later before anyone could find out. Since then, the myth of the ‘Finmen’ has continued to grow. The historical records describe his clothing as similar to what we now know as hailing from Inuit culture. But it seemed impossible. Did a Greenlandic fisherman cross the North Atlantic Ocean, 300 years ago, on nothing more than a seal-skin canoe? By undertaking this journey, George and Ollie set out to unearth the truth behind the mystery. If they could do it, perhaps the myth was true. Get ready for the Voyage of the Finmen. Highlights include:·      Kayak across one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world, a section of the North Atlantic between Iceland and Scotland, known as the ‘Devil’s Dancefloor’ because of the size of the waves and storms·      Paddle through the midnight sun from Greenland to Iceland, and then 450-miles around the crocodile teeth of the rugged fjords and soaring cliffs of North Icelandic coastline, camping out on wild beaches along the way·      Listen to one of the craziest rescue and survival stories you will ever hear·      Find out what happens when George and Ollie are hit by an enormous hurricane 60-miles off the Scottish coast·      Be inspired by George’s love and enthusiasm for the outdoors and adventure. He is one of the UK’s most sought-after motivational speakers and will fire you up to embark on your next adventure wherever that may beWho’s the Guest?George Bullard is a world record-breaking explorer, endurance athlete and motivational speaker. To date he has covered more than 2,000 miles on foot in the polar regions (including the longest unsupported polar journey in history, at just age 19) and completed countless extraordinary expeditions around the world. George is passionate about encouraging others to climb their own Everest physically, mentally and emotionally @georgebullardexplorer / www.georgebullard.co.ukLooking for inspiration for your next trip? George’s adventure travel company www.igoadventures.com curates one-of-a-kind adventures with purpose, for those looking for exceptional experiences in nature. They are affordable, amazing and hand-crafted by one of the world’s greatest adventurers. Thank you to Juggernaut Wines for sponsoring this episode. Harnessing the power of nature with every drop.  @juggernautwines / www.juggernautwines.comThe Armchair Explorer podcast is produced and hosted by award-winning travel writer Aaron Millar. Follow the show on Instagram & Facebook @armchairexplorerpodcast. www.armchair-explorer.com Episode image (c) Emma Hall, courtesy of George Bullard 
In this special listener episode, we follow teacher Adam Seldon on a 300-mile trek across the Balkans, one of Europe’s most mis-understood and rarely visited regions. Travelling from Sarajevo, in Bosnia, across Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece, Adam links together some of the region’s most spectacular scenery, national parks and long-distance trails. It’s a fantastic adventure. But what really sets it apart is why Adam is doing it.Standing on the cusp of adulthood, with his formal education just completed, Adam felt something was missing. Life had been too easy, he’d not faced enough challenge, enough risk or hardship. He wanted to learn by experience, not books. So, he set off on what’s called an Agoge, an ancient Spartan tradition in which young men were tasked with going into the wilderness on their own and overcoming a number of challenges before they could be considered a man. Adam wanted to do his own kind of modern day Agoge, to test himself in a way that he’d never experienced before. It was a personal journey of self-discovery and learning, but it was also a challenge to the misconceptions and unfair stereotypes of the Balkan region and its people. He found beautiful landscapes and incredible hospitality, but he also found the scars of war. Two decades after a brutal civil war, and genocide, much of the region was still reconciling itself to its bloody past and through his journey Adam illuminates that history and its effects on the people to this day. Peppered with genuine inspiration, and insight throughout, this is an inspiring story of Adam’s determination to challenge himself, it’s a story about a rarely visited part of the world, but it’s also a story about you – how just like Adam you too can break the mould of modern life and set out on your own adventure, your own Agoge whatever that may be. Highlights include:·      Trekking through some of the last remaining untouched wilderness in Europe·      Discovering a rarely visited region, including Albania’s spectacular Accursed Mountains and Bosnia’s Sutjeska National Park·      Learning about the brutal civil war that rocked the region more than two decades ago, and whose scars are still evident today·      Discover the ancient Spartan concept of an Agoge, a challenge undertaken on the cusp of adulthood·      Be inspired to set out on your own Agoge, whatever that may be – whether trekking 300 miles through Europe’s forgotten region or just pushing yourself to find out about your true potentialAdam Seldon’s book about this journey, A Balkan Journey: Walking Through Europe's Forgotten Region, is out now on Kindle. It’s a really quick read (about 80 pages), but full of fascinating history and intellectual insight. Follow him on Twitter - @adamjseldon and Instagram @adam.j.seldonThe Armchair Explorer podcast is cut documentary style with music and cinematic effects to create an immersive storytelling experience unlike anything else out there in the travel sphere. Each episode one of the world’s greatest adventurers comes on and tells their best story from the road. Connect on Instagram and Facebook - @armchairexplorerpodcast. Thank you to Juggernaut Wines for sponsoring this episode. This is the adventurer’s wine of choice, harnessing the power of nature to infuse every drop with the gritty spirit of the wild Californian coast. Follow them on Instagram @juggernautwines www.juggernautwines.com   
Follow travel author and doctor Stephen Fabes on a six year, 53,000-mile journey from his home in London across Europe, Africa, The Americas, Australia and Asia. He will cross deserts, jungles and the highest mountain ranges in the world; he will face the freezing winds of a Mongolian winter and the stifling heat of an Indonesian summer. In Peru, he is held up at gunpoint; in Nepal, a deadly blizzard strikes; in Kenya, he dodges shifta bandits; in Portland, he joins a naked rave. It's an incredible adventure. But it’s also more than that. It’s also a story about us. Stephen had a good job as an emergency room doctor, working at a prestigious hospital in London. His many years of training had just finished, his career was poised to take off. But he saw the years of his life unfolding before him, and though he was proud of what that life would be, it felt too predictable, too safe. So, he left. He cycled away from the hospital he worked at and didn’t return for six long years. He traded a comfortable city lifestyle for a $10 per day budget, wild camping by the side of the road. And guess what: he loved every minute of it. But the more he travelled, the more the doctor in him began to resurface. He visited medical clinics, mental health facilities and refugee slums. He volunteered at some of the poorest, and most war-torn regions on the planet. And the more he did, the more he began to realise that health is more complex than simply what’s happening inside the body. It is part of an intricate web of social and political forces; it is influenced by everything from geography and climate to belief and economics. By seeing the world through the eyes of a doctor, he shows us humanity at its most cruel, but also its most compassionate. He shows us that we are inextricably bound together, that we affect each other no matter how different or distant we may seem. In the margins of the world, he finds our common humanity, our Signs of Life.Highlights include:·      Cycle around six continents, a whirlwind journey through some of the planet’s harshest, most beautiful and awe-inspiring places.·      Ride across the Alps in winter, dodge lions in Botswana, sleep out on the salt flats of Bolivia, cycle frozen lakes in Mongolia,  pedal through a war zone in Afghanistan and more·      Visit some of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities on Earth, hear their stories of cruelty and compassion, desperation and hope·      See the world through a doctor’s eyes,  learning about the broader forces at work that affect global healthcare, from politics to climate change.·      Be inspired to break out of the mould and set off on your own big adventure, wherever that may beWho’s the Guest?Stephen Fabes is a medical doctor with a bad case of wanderlust and no sense of direction. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, the Telegraph, CNN and the BBC among others. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an inspiring public speaker and a regular at live storytelling nights. He currently works in the Emergency Department at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Signs of Life is his first book.  www.stephenfabes.com, @stephenfaves (Instagram), @drstephenfabes (twitter), @cyclingthe6 (Facebook)Thank you to The Great Courses Plus for sponsoring this episode. Go to www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/armchair to get a free one-month trial with access to unlimited streaming of thousands of videos and audio content taught by the world’s best professors. It’s like Netflix for your brain. Find out more about the show  www.armchair-explorer.com,  @armchairexplorerpodcast 
Follow travel author Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent on one of the toughest motorcycle journeys on the planet: six weeks and 2,000 miles through the near impassable mud and steep mountain slopes of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Crossing Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, The Ho Chi Minh Trail was the main military supply route during the Vietnam War, moving men and supplies from communist controlled North Vietnam to the American backed south. Today, it’s slowly disappearing, overrun by jungle, deforestation and the advancement of the modern world. In riding the trail, Antonia wanted to explore this rapidly changing region and important part of history before it’s lost forever.She also wanted a proper adventure. The Ho Chi Minh Trail that most people ride is the modern tarmac friendly version. Few people attempt the original route over the muddy guts of the Truong Son Mountains in Laos. Even fewer trace it south into the wild eastern reaches of Cambodia. Antonia did both; and she did it on her own with nothing more than a 25-year-old shiny pink 125cc Honda Cub, she named the Pink Panther, for company. It’s an incredibly beautiful place, filled with shimmering jungles, limestone mountains and small tribal villages where tourists rarely go. But it’s also marred with tragedy. During the war, the Ho Chi Minh Trail was bombed on average every eight minutes and the scars are still visible today: entire villages made out of war scrap, bomb craters big enough to fit a double-decker bus and, most tragically of all, UXO (unexploded ordinance).As much as 30% of American bombs dropped during the war failed to explode and 40-years later they are still primed and hidden in the thick undergrowth of the forest. To date, UXO along the trail has killed more than 100,000 people, many of them children. This is an incredible adventure story about one of the most difficult motorbike routes on the planet. But it’s also a story about the legacy of the Vietnam War that is still affecting the people who live along the trail today. Are you ready for a wild ride? Let’s go.  Highlights include: ·      Heading out on one of the wildest motorcycle rides on the planet, 2,000 miles through remote jungle, over steep and muddy mountain slopes ·      Discovering a remote part of South East Asia few travellers get to see, deep in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia ·      Learning about the history of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the most bombed place per capita in the world, and the tragic legacy of the war still affecting people to day ·      Hearing about Antonia’s close call along the Mondulkiri Death Highway, one of the most dangerous stretches of road on the planet. Let’s just say, it nearly lived up to its name ·      Being inspired to achieve anything you set your mind to. Antonia chose to do this journey solo to test herself, to prove to herself she could be self-reliant, to see how strong she really was. What she discovered was that if you’re determined enough, if you want something bad enough, you can do anything you set your mind to. Who’s the Guest?Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent is a travel author, broadcaster and public speaker with a particular love of wandering alone through remote regions. Her website is www.theitinerant.co.uk and you can find her on twitter and Instagram @antsbk. The full story of this journey is available on audiobook at Audible, and other audio book platforms.www.armchair-explorer.com / @armchairexplorerpodcast.  This is episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus - head over to www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/armchair for thousands of videos and audio content, for free, for a month. It's like Netflix for your brain. 
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